All hail the latest overnight star, 19-year-old actor Jirayu "James" Tangsrisuk - the hottest kid in town, "the next Nadech Kugimiya", 150,000 followers on Twitter (abruptly up from 20,000), 100,000 likes for his pics on Instagram.
The star of Channel 3’s hit soap opera “Khunchai Puttipat”, part of the “Suparbburut Juthathep” series, he’s the new primary subject of online research, where female fans discovered with relief that he had a girlfriend in school – so he’s not gay.
But James is a little shy about comparisons with Nadech, the country’s top-ranking actor. “I’m a fan of his too!” he says. And besides, he didn’t set out to become a celebrity. That was the dream of his mum, who owns a clothing shop in Pichit. “She always said she wanted to see me on TV.”
So Mum studied pictures of Western babies while she was pregnant and took friends’ advice to eat a lot of fish so that the extra calcium would make her baby’s nose bigger. She wanted him to grow tall and somehow thought forcing him to get to bed by 10pm would help. She once entered his photo in a beauty contest without asking, thus forcing him to participate.
She could have saved herself a lot of trouble and just waited for Facebook to come along. James simply posted his picture there and it caught the eye of Charnchalarn “Pik” Dhaweesap, who was looking for an actor and who would soon become his personal manager.
James’ carefree attitude about stardom prompts the question of what exactly he was interested in while growing up? No surprises there: “I used to go to a computer-game shop and spend, like, 10 hours a day there.” He quit that routine only when he moved to a new school for Grade 10, but the gaming had left him shortsighted.
For an actor, of course, that can be a plus. He looks very cool in eyeglasses playing a doctor on “Khunchai Puttipat” – and he sure doesn’t look 19!